About 500 activists of five political parties including CPI, CPM, Forward Block, Samajwadi Party and RJD on Monday courted arrest here protesting against land acquisition for Korean steel company Posco’s $12 billion (Rs 54,000) steel plant near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district.
“People who have been staying in the area for generations have been termed by the state government as encroachers. The real encroacher is the state government, which is displacing the poor people to make way for the company,” said Diwakar Nayak, state secretary, CPI.
Land acquisition works have been going on in the project affected villages, about 200 km east of Bhubaneswar, since May 18 following the Union environment and forest ministry’s final clearance for diversion of 1253 hectares (3100 acres) of forestland for the project on the basis of the state government’s claims that no traditional forest dwellers lived in the affected area.
The district administration has so far acquired more than 500 acres of land and disbursed Rs5 crore to vine farmers since it began land acquisition work.
Posco, the world’s fourth largest steel producer, signed an MoU with the Orissa government in June 2005 to set up its 12-million-tonne-per-annum greem field steel plant near Paradip.
Of the total 4004 acres required for the plant more than 3000 acres are forest land. But villagers facing imminent displacement because of the proposed plant have been it construction under the leadership of PPSS